What Do Units Mean in College?

It is not so hard to find a way to the library or class, but it is much harder to understand what units mean in college. Is there a specific system for each university? Do they have something to do with lectures and tutorials? How many hours are you going to spend with books to get so desired degree? Are you free to choose? You are going to find all the answers in this article.

The Definition

College units

A unit means a course’s time value and is used to define the number of hours given to each class at the college or university. It measures the intensity of a class and its importance. In simple terms, it determines how much each course is worth to your degree. Usually, the unit represents about 3 hours per week. So, it means if you enroll in a three-unit course in biology, you will spend 9 hours per week on it. But there is no one general system for all the colleges. Sometimes it varies and depends on class and college itself.

Each degree program has the minimum and the maximum number of hours required. For most majors, the graduation requirement is 180 units. So, that means if you plan on graduating in four years you are going to take on average of 15 units each quarter or 45 completed ones by the end of each academic year. You can then use summer as a term to make up hours from the previous academic year or to get ahead for the upcoming academic year.

What Do 3 Units Mean in College?

I will tell you more, “what do 4 units mean in college?” is also the right question because some of the college classes will have 3, 4 or even 5 units. As I said before, it is variable and depends on the workload. What is different for 3, 4 or 5-unit classes is the amount of work you will be involved in. Apparently, there will be more work papers such as research essay, article reviews, etc. Read your syllabus carefully and you will know what is coming. Not a winter, I suppose.

Sometimes its number depends just on whether you are a graduate or an undergraduate student. But it would not hurt to be familiar with the whole system of your future college and to check the information about the courses you are going to take with your instructor. It is even better to review it with an academic advisor. Our advice is to use the hours’ allowance wisely.

How Many Courses Should You Take?

Units in college

Besides the question what does quarter units mean in college”, one of the most common ones is “How hard is it to do 17/18/19 units in a semester?”. Let’s clarify how many of them you should take.

Some people take more hours because they are trying to save money, others will do it because they are doing a double major. I want to give you some insight and prevent you from getting burned out needlessly. Generally speaking, 5 classes or 15 units is manageable enough, but it should be your maximum. Moreover, if you have a possibility to take one or two classes online, take advantage of it.

Some people think if they do not take as many courses as possible, they are not really fulfilling their ambitions in college. But do not forget there also will be an internship, leadership class, etc. You need to be developing as an individual, not just doing academic work.

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